29 October 2002 – Shareholders in New Zealand electricity and natural gas distribution company, Powerco Ltd. voted today in favour of the company’s plans to buy UnitedNetworks Ltd.’s Eastern Region Electricity Network and Central North Island gas networks for NZ$810m ($395.5m).

Powerco said in a statement that shareholders attending a special meeting of the company had also given the green light to the debt funding arrangements required for the purchase to proceed.

Powerco’s Chairman, Barry Upson, welcomed the vote by shareholders and reiterated the company’s previous prediction that the acquisitions will deliver improved earnings and increased dividend payments to shareholders.

Dividends a share after the acquisitions will increase from the 13.1 NZ cents a share in the financial year ended March 31, 2002, to 14 NZ cents a share in the current financial year ending March 31, 2003, and then 16 NZ cents a share in the following financial year ending March 31, 2004.

“They will be driven by an 89 per cent increase in consumer connections and the operating synergies of a network that will almost double in size,” Upson said in a statement.

After the acquisitions, Powerco’s total asset base will double in size and increase to NZ$1.7bn.

It will result in Powerco becoming the largest energy distribution company in New Zealand in terms of network length and the second largest in terms of consumer connections with around 390 000 total connections, Upson said.